Listen to my podcast on Self-Confidence with Sheena Yap Chan

Sheena Yap Chan is creating a valuable resource for women everywhere, with her podcast The Tao of Self-Confidence.She recently interviewed me, and I hadn't thought about the topic of confidence for quite some time. It had never occurred to me that I lacked self-confidence, because I had always been a high achiever. But in the interview, I realize that my source of confidence has shifted from outer accomplishments to an invisible inner source.

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Greeting Fear with Love

Fear has been up for me lately. I'm stepping into new unknowns and therefore a new level of courage is required. And in order to function, I've woken up to a new way of greeting fear. Instead of trying to beat it down, or conquer it, which both contain the quality of resistance, I practiced this: "It's OK, fear. Come on in. You are welcome here. Sit down at my table."

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Red Pill or Blue Pill?

MatrixBluePillRedPill There is a scene in the movie, The Matrix, in which the main character Neo is offered a choice between the “red pill” and the “blue pill”.

This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill—the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill—you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes. Remember: all I'm offering is the truth. Nothing more.

Does it excite you to imagine discovering how deep the rabbit hole goes? Or do you notice a resistance toward leaving the comfort of your current reality?

In the movie, “truth” at first appears as a chilling image of the planet taken over by machines, living off the energy of human beings who are lying unconscious inside jars of gelatinous solvent. Towards the end of the film, it is love received from his beloved which finally wakes Neo up to the reality of his own illusion. That he has believed in everything within the Matrix, and through that belief he has created his own truth. With new eyes touched by love, he sees everything as it actually is: a construct of his own consciousness, where elements take on only the meaning he assigns to them.

Awakening to choice - realizing in any moment that you have a choice - is a moment of connecting to your creative power. Notice that your power to choose always resides inside you. You choose whether to activate your own power by choosing to choose.

No one, no thing, no place, no circumstance outside you can, without your consent, take your power away. You may have been taught to give your power away in the past. Forgive yourself and choose now to be your own power.

The most powerful choice you have is to awaken to the love that you are. Survival and “getting through life” may have hardened you to this truth. You may have learned to protect your core from fully receiving what you feel. By protecting yourself from what you feel, you have denied yourself love. You have refused to shine the light of love on certain aspects of your experience, while insisting on exposing only the so-called acceptable parts. When you encounter a situation that brings you close to touching what you feel, do you stay or do you run?

My experience is I had a strategy of keeping intensely felt experiences at an arm’s length, making it about “them” or “those people” over “there”. I thought I was dealing with these experiences in a "professional" manner by detaching myself, seeing “objectively”, and disconnecting from what I feel. I experienced burnout in a caring profession as a result of the very pattern I had been taught was “professional” and proper.

Only when I was guided, with love and no judgment, to receive what I feel inside me — reversing the pattern of distancing myself from what I feel — did I wake up to the magnitude of the love that I am. I cannot describe in words or quantify this magnitude because it is not a measurable “amount of something”. I can only say that I felt my love, as me, come through me, in a moment of complete awe and flow of both humility and security. I simultaneously felt the smallness of my human self and my human thought forms, and the vastness of my true self as an expression of the love of all-that-is.

I have a vision for the evolution of medicine being led by those physicians who, through burnout, have come to the point where they are no longer able to play the game of denying what they feel. Physicians whose old strategies for survival have run their course. Physicians who have reached a recognition that their visceral knowing contains a truth which, despite being unexplainable, is worthy of their attention and love. Physicians who are prepared to choose the red pill.

I have no plans to teach doctors how to run their practices, or how to define their professional roles. I wish only to point to a door within you, which opens in. Perhaps you have been living your life trying to push outward, when all along you simply never knew that the door opens in. Any true resolution to the current pain in health care lies beyond that door within you. Will you open it?

If your heart says YES, join me on my next free telephone introduction to Live Your Medicine.

Be Willing to Drop the F Bomb

IMG_3704 When I was a senior in high school applying to college, I remember one university had as its essay question, "What was your biggest failure and what did you learn from it?". I remember considering not applying to that school because I couldn't think of a failure to write about.

At the time, I was on the receiving end of a lot of attention and praise for never having failed (publicly at least). But now as an adult, I know the trap of living a life based on avoidance of failure. It's no success to have reached all the goals that have been set for you, to have checked all the boxes other people have laid out as important for you, and then to look in the mirror and not recognize yourself. Or to have your body screaming in pain or exhaustion.

Having been there and done that, I have rediscovered the vital importance of failure. Not "achieving" failure as an identity, but being willing to fail. I gave a workshop on Friday to a group of engineers, coaches, consultants, startup founders, and other change agents interested in how groups of people grow and learn. It was based entirely around sound, voice, and music improvisation - in other words, the most common fears of about ninety-nine percent of the population.

The name of the workshop was, "Play the Wrong Note: Daring Adventures in Learning, Failure, and Creativity". The title actually refers to a specific moment in my life when everything changed for me. Those four words - "Play the wrong note" - were the four most compassionate words ever spoken to me by a teacher. No one in a position of authority had ever said, "Lisa, I want to see you break the rules. And I'll help you." It turned out to be the most loving instructions I ever received, and the framework for an entire body of work.

It was about three months in to my sound healing training program. A weekend workshop dedicated to the art of improvisation. I thought I could just observe and let the others do this improvisation thing, which was clearly for "those people" but not me. So I hid behind the teacher with my violin tucked under my arm, hoping he would not see me or ask me to participate in this bluesy, jazzy jam that was happening all around me.

And, of course, at that very moment, he turned around and pointed right at me. "You! Solo!" he said.

I had no idea what to play. I wasn't into blues or jazz and had no reference point for what sounds to make. He could sense that I needed help so he said, "Play the wrong note."

My facial expression must have communicated the feeling I had, which was, "OK. But...which one?". There were an infinite number of wrong notes I could play. How would I know which one was right?

He smiled and took my finger in his hand, and moved it to a random place on the fingerboard of my violin. "Play that," he said gently.

I heard his instructions, but when I tried to play, my bow arm literally would not move. I was so hard-wired to play only the right notes - after daily practicing from age four - that my entire body would not allow me to play any wrong ones.

It was the perfect timing for me. I was ready. I had had a lifetime of good training, practice, and mastery. I was wired for success. But I had no wiring for freedom, fun, or failure. And in that moment, standing there, stranded, in the middle of a room with forty or so people making sounds, having a great time, and waiting for me to solo, I got it.

I could continue to avoid failure, or I could choose to grow into the unknown.

Later that day, in the same workshop, my violin case fell off its chair and onto the floor.

I took it as a sign and stopped avoiding the failures that were wanting to happen for me. I closed my violin school a little over a month later. I started practicing - first in the privacy of my own home, and using my voice, not my violin - making sounds that were all "wrong" to my trained ears. I started PLAYING again. Something I had not done in a long time, and maybe never on my violin.

The adventure that followed was a list of things I could never have planned for my life. I started playing only improvised music, in public, on a stage. I discovered hiking and backpacking. I went to the top of Half Dome and the bottom of the Grand Canyon. I started working at REI - the retail job I was never allowed to have as a teenager because I could earn more money teaching violin or staying home to practice. I won a gig as a gear tester and reporter for Backpacker Magazine, including a free trip to the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City. I discovered Thai massage and Breema bodywork, which led to traveling to three countries I would never have dreamed of visiting before - Bali, Thailand and Laos. And through my practice of these forms of bodywork, I traded massages for studio days with a couple of artist friends. And I discovered that I could play with paint. Which led to a daily art-making habit. Which has (so far, in the year or so that I've been doing it) led to a juried show, a new blog, and a whole lotta new art supplies in my house.

I could not have written these down on a bucket list because I would never have let my imagination run that wild. Until I was willing to Play The Wrong Note.

And not just once, in a workshop. It was about making a decision to bring the learning from that moment back to my daily life. To find ways to practice that willingness every time the opportunity came up.

It started with music. Being willing to play the wrong note in my personal comfort zone. And then it expanded. Not with planning but as a natural consequence of becoming familiar with the willingness to be "wrong".

So this is my soapbox.

Risk taking is necessary. Being open and willing to fail is necessary. Not knowing is necessary. And these skills are not taught in school. They are not the skills that get you straight A's. They are not the skills that make you look "smart". They are not the skills that earn you the proud distinction of being a Good Daughter (or Wife or Mother). They are not the skills that you use to fill out a college or medical school application. They are often not the stuff of polite cocktail party conversation.

They are the skills of the maverick. The rebel. The free thinker. The one who creates.

So no matter how long ago it was that you experienced your last failure - whether it was just this morning or decades ago or not at all - it is never too late to dive right in. Start practicing the F word.

Take it from a straight A student. Me.

Curious about my "Play The Wrong Note" workshop? Read this blog post or listen to the Creative Conversation we had yesterday about it.

And if you're ready to start practicing Fun, Freedom, and Failure with writing as improvisation, check out my brand new coaching program here.

Wishing You The Fun and Freedom of Being Willing to Fail,

Lisa

E-Squared Book Club: Week 6

At this week's E-Squared Book Club we discussed the last two chapters. I was sad to get to the end of the book because it’s been so much fun to do these experiments and share what’s happening each week with the club and on the blog. Once again, the weather at Quarry Park was spectacular – warm and sunshine-filled.

Bathed in sunshine.

Oneness - We Are All Connected

Experiment #8, the 101 Dalmatians Principle, is about how we really are all connected. That every particle in the universe is in instantaneous communication with every other particle. Wow!

I happened to stumble upon the movie Cloud Atlas this past weekend (coincidence? Or synchronicity?), which addresses this principle in beautiful movie-making splendor.

According to this principle, every thought we have alters the entire universe forever. Imagine that! The other big idea is: Your thoughts about other people change YOU. How you see others is how you will see yourself. This makes forgiveness and kindness and compassion make sense at the level of the universe. It’s not about doing the “right” thing according to a rulebook or moral code. It’s about observing and choosing what you create in your own reality each time you think a thought about someone else.

Shirley had a GREAT story about this experiment from the morning of our meeting. Instead of blurting out her normal string of requests and judgments toward a person in her life, she paused and silently sent a message through the FP to that person. She got quiet and still and asked clearly and kindly that this person take action.

Within minutes, she received a phone call from that person reporting that he was completing the actions she requested.

What I LOVE about this story is that in the moment she stopped herself from “yelling” and connected her thoughts silently to the FP, Shirley was giving to herself what she so desperately wanted from the other person. And then she got it.

Pretty magical…or (as I like to say now)...exactly the way the universe works.

Shirley in her stillness.

Abundance and Enoughness

Experiment #9, the Fishes and Loaves Principle, was about “enoughness” and finding the goodness and beauty that is already everywhere all the time.

I love Pam’s discussion of how our society's mantra seems to be, “There’s not enough”, and we hold on to this thought because we believe we need it in order to motivate us to do anything at all. If we were completely content with how things are, then what would we do with our lives? Or so the thought goes.

But have we ever really paused to live the experiment? What IF we tried being appreciative of every single thing we already have right now, and kept repeating that moment to moment? What IF we saw our worlds through that lens of everything already being “enough”?

Most of us are too afraid to try.

It reminds me of an article I wrote on the Breema principle of No Extra. On the free Q&A call for that month, I asked people what came up for them around the idea of “No Extra”, and one of my clients said, “I worry that it means there won’t be enough. No Extra means there's not enough.”

Isn’t it fascinating how solidly we are rooted in the concept of “not enough”? So much so that we can’t hear the real meaning of “No Extra” which is actually EXACTLY enough. Not too much, and not too little. I once heard that Mother Teresa’s multimillion dollar charity always operated on enough. No extra, but exactly enough.

Based on everything I’ve learned from these experiments, I see that “enough” is not an amount or quantity. “Enough” is a lens. When we choose to see through the lens of “enough”, that is what we will find in our lives. And when we choose to see through the lens of “not enough”, we will also find that.

It Doesn't Have To Be Hard

Tammy wands

Tammy shared a story from this week, that she sees as a result from Experiment #1, started six weeks ago. At that time she felt she had received a sign from the FP that it was time to be recognized at a higher level and submit her portfolio review for a magazine. She had a grumbly feeling about doing the submission, but really wanted to be seen in a respected magazine. She walked away from that first meeting saying, “OK, universe, if you say so, I guess I’ll have to submit my portfolio if I want to get shown. Even though I really don’t want to do the submission.”

Tammy says she recalls me saying, apparently very calmly, “What if you can get the recognition you want from the magazine without having to do the submission?”.

She rolled her eyes inside because she held the thought, “Yeah, right. Nothing ever just happens like that. You’ve got to buy the lottery ticket if you want to win the lottery. Just like I’ve got to do the submission if I want my work to be recognized.”

Fast forward six weeks, and she finds herself being asked to show her work in San Francisco, in a beautiful sacred venue, to an audience who will likely include prospective clients. The more pieces she gives, the more they ask for. And she never had to go through a portfolio review! The opportunity and invitation to show just came to her.

I loved hearing the opening in Tammy’s voice as she described, with a bit of awe and wonder, how maybe – just maybe - this all really did just come to her.

Another update from Experiment #1: Pianos Pianos Everywhere!

Remember Shirley's request from Experiment #1? She wanted a piano to play. She didn't want to own one. She just wanted a place to go and play when she wanted to, and be heard by others if they wanted to.

Two possibilities came immediately into our circle in the form of pianos we knew to be available.

Shirley's big learning was about the need to show up and take actions to meet the blessings that are coming her way. She did that TWICE during the E-Squared Book Club, both related to pianos.

Last Sunday, I happened to be out for breakfast at Cafe Classique, and there she was, sitting at the piano playing ragtime. Dreams do come true. You have to call it in by asking, then be brave and take action to go meet your dream! Yay, Shirley! You inspired me and many others.

Shirley plays the piano at Cafe Classique, El Granada.

Shirley at the piano, Cafe Classique, El Granada.

The Radiance of Self-Love

Finally, we played with the wands, and captured some video for you. In this clip, watch as I consciously send love to each and every corner of my life as it is right now - not just the parts I 'like" but all parts that I may have hidden, judged, or cast aside as "not good enough right now". My energy field expands and the wands open like butterfly wings.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/i9IS8367aj8]

Here's a quick clip of Tammy silently asking a question of the wands. First you see a "yes" and then a "no" with her second question. Tammy is very connected to the wands and her energy shows up very clearly and immediately.

[youtube=http://youtu.be/Dj-Y5OP9XmY]

Onward and upward! Bringing experiments into daily life

Our project over the next week is to design our own energy experiments for the holidays and end of the year. What one or two experiments would you like to run in your own life? You can base the experiment on one of the nine experiments in the book, or you can come up with your own completely original ones.

I’m looking forward to hearing what we all come up with…and sharing our results right here!

P.S. Here's an update on my sunflower seed sprouts, two weeks after planting:

Sunflower sprouts - Day 14